Date Archives May 2007

The Burkini Affair: a follow-up

Just wanted to do a quick follow-up to the story of Manal Omar that I posted a few weeks ago. (Brief synopsis: woman tries to wear Islamic-style swimsuit in British fitness centre and all hell breaks loose.) Islamophobia Watch points out a very funny letter written by a Linda Allan of Bath in response to the article. Well, maybe not everyone will find it funny, but I get a kick out of unbridled ignorance. I love the way, for example, Ms. Allan says that “In this country we are able… Read More

Happy Bank Holiday!

Why, exactly, does it have to rain every Bank Holiday Monday? Personally, I blame the name. Bank Holiday. I mean, who names a public holiday after a bank? Do banks have any good connotations for anybody? I’m surprised we don’t get hit with a £29 service charge every Bank Holiday. Why don’t we just do like the rest of the world and call it a public holiday? Actually, while we’re at it, perhaps we could dispense with the religious roots as well – after all there’s nothing very holy about… Read More

Terrorists I am scared of

I lived in New York through 9/11, orange alerts, red alerts, purple alerts and all the rest, and never really felt a visceral fear of Al Qaeda, any more than I felt afraid of the IRA living in London during the bombing campaign. The danger was real, of course, but perhaps because of the way the governments in both countries manipulated and amplified the threat to suit their own purposes, I soon became quite blase. The kindly-looking old guy mentioned in this article, however, scares the living shit out of… Read More

I merely belong

When I lived in the USA, I was always amused and confused by people who puffed out their chests and said how proud they were to be American. Now that I’m back in London, the government here declares its intent to instill a sense of “Britishness” among its insufficiently jingoistic people. None of this has ever made any sense to me, at least not since I was a child and too young to know any better. Since I have been able to think for myself, I’ve always been puzzled by… Read More

More mindless killing

To continue for a moment the theme of senseless killing for squalid and trivial ends, I’m reading a book of essays by Texas Death Row inmate Gene Wilford Hathorn. He’s been on the Row for 21 years now, and has watched 250 people go to their deaths. In the first essay, he tells how the 24-year-old man in the cell next door (a 17-year-old at the time of his crime) has petitioned the dental department to extract a health tooth, partly as an excuse to leave the cell, and partly… Read More

How about a little humanity?

Does this sound familiar? A war in the Middle East launched for obscure reasons. The justification changing constantly according to what ministers think can “sell” it to the people at any particular time. Disregarding the United Nations. Bombing people in order to protect them. Being surprised when such brutality does not win the hearts and minds of those who have lived through it. A “villainous” policy, “so appalling that human language can hardly describe it”, one that “will take us many years to live down.” Well, all of this comes… Read More